Sand mine on the cards

Elisia Seeber, SOUND TELEGRAPHSound Telegraph

The sound of bustling trucks loading sand could become a reality for Wellard residents, with the Department of Mines and Petroleum confirming a mining proposal and mine closure application have been lodged for the old Banksia Road Rifle Range site.

Wellard residents have been fighting the sand mine since plans emerged in the 1990s, fearing its operation would affect endangered fauna and cause significant dust, noise, water and road safety issues for neighbouring properties.

Department executive director of environment Dr Phil Gorey said the department had also received an application for a clearing permit in February to remove 17.359ha of native vegetation for site remediation and sand extraction.

He said a remedial action and management plan was submitted with the mining proposal identifying areas of potential lead contamination and ways to remediate the site before operations began.

"This operation will decontaminate the site while also providing much-needed basic raw materials (up to three million cubic metres of high-quality and fill-quality sand) for the local area," he said.

However, Greens South Metropolitan MLC Lynn MacLaren said mounting evidence of the biodiversity values of the reserve indicated mining would be potentially dangerous to human health and possibly illegal under environmental laws.

"Thanks to research by GHD, commissioned by the City of Kwinana, we now know the site has very high species diversity and richness, and it provides habitat for species identified as matters of national environmental significance under Federal environmental law, including the Carnaby's black cockatoo and the forest red-tailed black cockatoo," she said.

Ms MacLaren, who spoke out about the issue in Parliament, said the operation also raised concerns about potential groundwater contamination and contaminated dust,which would likely result through disturbing the site.

She said the site would be best vested as a nature reserve.

Dr Gorey said the mining proposal and mine closure plan were under assessment.

He said the department would make a decision on the vegetation clearing permit in the coming months.

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